What happens if High Court rules against Barnaby Joyce

BARNABY Joyce will find out his fate at 2.15pm on Friday afternoon, at the same time as the rest of the country.

The High Court will announce if the New England MP has breached the Australian Constitution by holding a dual New Zealand citizenship.

If the court rules against Mr Joyce, it will set off a chain of events that will have repercussions both locally and nationally.

Firstly, Mr Joyce will be forced to resign as the Member for New England and Deputy Prime Minister. The electorate would then gear up for a by-election, which could be held in early December.

Mr Joyce has already stated he would stand in the by-election, and is eligible to do so, as he has formally renounced his dual citizenship.

Recent polling suggests Mr Joyce would retain the seat – in September, it was revealed the Nationals had a 57 per cent two-party preferred majority.

But candidates are already lining up for the potential by-election, and Mr Joyce can expect competition from Labor, One Nation, the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party, and former independent MP Tony Windsor.

While the nation waits on the result of the by-election, the government would be without its one-seat majority for at least one sitting week, possibly two.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is about to leave on a five-day trip to Israel – if Mr Joyce is forced to step down, Julie Bishop, the deputy Liberal leader, would assume the role of Acting Prime Minister during Mr Turnbull’s absence.

Nationals’ deputy leader Senator Fiona Nash, who inherited Scottish citizenship through her father, may also be forced to step down.

Nationals senate leader, Senator Nigel Scullion, would act as Nationals party leader, and it is understood he would also pick up Mr Joyce’s portfolios of agriculture, water and resources.

Infrastructure Minister Darren Chester, is the next most senior National in the House of Representatives and would likely act in Senator Nash’s portfolio of regional development and communications, and local government and territories.

The court will also make rulings on Greens senators Larissa Waters and Scott Ludlam, One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts, Nationals senator Matt Canavan, and Senator Nick Xenophon.

Last week, Mr Joyce told Fairfax Media if he was given the green light, it would be back to business as usual.